A magical landscape punctuated by the strange, root like forms of beautiful and unearthly baobab trees, forest canopies filled with unknown species and unique creatures such as the minute mouse lemur with its round lamp like eyes, skimming kingfishers catching tiny fish from the limpid forest pools, and the curiously coloured tenrec, amongst thousands of other endemic animals. An ocean that teems with an abundance of marine life, providing the perfect environment to discover diving under the glorious warmth of the Madagascan sunshine. Hospitable communities where you will find a culture that evokes the exotic aura of Africa with a distinctly French European flavour.
All this and more is waiting to be discovered within this unique island located in the blue waters of the Indian Ocean. With this project you will experience the best that Madagascar has to offer, with an unforgettable teaching experience in a developing community, a breathtaking trek through the prolific forests stuffed full of flora and fauna, and scuba diving over the reef-scapes of one of the best diving spots in the world. Join this project for a varied and exhilarating journey through this most tempting of travel destinations!
WHAT DOES THE PROJECT DO? Madagascar's Lemurs
Madagascar has been isolated for over 165 million years, creating a biodiversity resource of global significance, with over 80% of species found nowhere else on Earth, including leaping Sifaka Lemurs, Lesser Mouse Lemurs or even the elusive Fat-tailed Dwarf Lemur. Sifaka Lemurs are very popular with visitors due to the unusual manner in which they traverse open ground. They are mainly found in trees and are capable jumpers, but due to the dispersal patterns of their favourite trees, they cross un-jumpable spaces by sashaying sideways on their hind legs, with their arms in the air! Sadly these beautiful creatures are threatened – which is why programmes such as this are so vital.
Other interesting creatures found here include an abundance of reptiles such as tortoises, snakes, iguanas and a vast array of chameleons, both the smallest and largest in the world. There is spectacular bird life, and over three-quarters of the flora are endemic, with palms and more orchids than in all of mainland Africa.
This incredible flora and fauna, unique in its ability to resist the region's aridity, has led naturalists to describe Madagascar's forests as "the eighth wonder of the world".
Protecting Marine Wildlife
Madagascar's human population has doubled since 1960, leading to increased deforestation and overgrazing, which in turn has caused massive soil erosion and desertification, and damage to the marine ecosystems due to pollution and runoff.
Through marine SCUBA and snorkel surveys you will map coral, identify reef and commercial fish, and record marine species including fish, dolphins and turtles. Diving under the supervision of a professional dive officer, you will become confident and comfortable underwater. Your results will determine the biodiversity of these waters and help formulate management plans.
Other activities include surveying mangroves, a vital buffer against elements such as tsunamis, and also documenting coastal bird and reptile populations, an important part of the coastal ecosystem.
Lack of Foreign-Language Teachers
The majority of primary school-age children and 36% of secondary school-age children attend school. However, schools are severely under-funded and there is an unequal distribution of educational resources across the country. Poor and rural communities can only attend seriously disadvantaged public schools. Depending on the time of year, for example during the long summer holidays, you may be teaching adults lessons to members of the village, held either at camp or in the church.
The vast majority of the population speaks only Malagasy, and there is a lack of foreign-language teachers. Your help can give children and adults a sense of confidence, encourage their enthusiasm and ambition, and even improve their opportunities for the future. To teach, you will need to be patient, flexible, a confident communicator and able to use your initiative and imagination. It would be helpful to have beginner's level French, but you will have plenty of opportunities to learn! Lessons will be fun and interactive, developing the pupil's confidence and conversational skills.
Students will be interested in life where you come from. You may be able to get involved teaching other activities such as sports, music or science, if you are interested and have the relevant skills. There will also be the possibility of working with our field conservation programmes to arrange collaborations for environmental education.
WHAT WILL I BE DOING?
This is a specimen itinerary for a 3 week project and the order and duration of the project components is subject to change. The 6, 9 and 12 week project option will mean more time on each project component. Timing of Marine, Teaching and Forest phases may vary depending on the time of year you depart.
The 2 week project option allows you to take part in your choice of 2 projects from those listed above, each for 1 week.
Day 1 & 2: Orientation
Arrive in Nosy Be and receive orientation and briefing by the Frontier staff on the beach camp.
Week 1: Diving and marine conservation
The camp is the sociable hub of Frontier-Madagascar, and is perfect for relaxing and enjoying spending time with your group at the end of a busy day of diving. Whilst completing this project, you will be able to gain your PADI Open Water diving qualification (£250 extra), an internationally recognised certification. The research programme within the Bay is a very exciting and dynamic. The priority for this phase will be BSP (Baseline Survey Protocol) although other activities will be included: Rapid Assessment Protocol (RAP), collaborating and adding to underwater species lists, sediment traps – setting and analysing, algae/coral quadrats to monitor phase shifts, benthic surveys to assess the extent of pink line syndrome, nutrient water testing across the bay, mangrove survey work and various socio-economic work such as village workshops for PADI Aware, interviewing of local fishermen and trips to the fish markets. With such a wide array of activities on-going you are unlikely to be able to do everything, especially with dive training to fit in: so please be realistic. Diving regularly in the waters of the Indian Ocean over perfect coral reefs, amid spectacular fish, turtles and rays is an experience you will never forget.
Week 2: Forest conservation
You will have the chance to explore the forest of Nosy Be, and maybe even further afield on the mainland or local islands on an infamous satellite camp. You will experience a truly remote environment, spotting rarely seen wildlife along the way. As you go you may have the chance to carry out opportunistic wildlife spotting as you travel.
This may allow you to take part in the following sampling;
- Vegetation surveying
- Small mammal and lemur sampling
- Reptile and amphibian sampling
- Butterfly trapping
- Opportunistic observation of birds, reptiles and mammals
Week 3: Teaching English
Your work schedule will cover a comprehensive, varied and enjoyable teaching programme which will engage you fully with your pupils and will awaken your creativity and initiative. You may be helping a local teacher at the school as well as being required to take control of your own lessons, which will encourage you to formulate ideas and develop your teaching skills and techniques. You may be involved with activities such as marking pupil's work, and producing an inspiring teaching strategy including preparing homework and assembling innovative and effective lesson plans.
As well as this you will have the opportunity to help with lots of extracurricular activities which will vary extensively depending on your personal skills and interests – whether it is helping organise a school show, playing football with the super competitive and highly skilled local kids. You may even get the chance to join the Frontier marine or forest camps for their regular Friday night themed parties, depending on the overall work programme. The teaching programme is demanding but thoroughly rewarding and is excellent preparation for anyone looking towards a career in teaching or who is just keen to get exposure to this worthwhile field of work. Whatever you decide, you are sure to gain huge satisfaction from inspiring these communities, whilst significantly enhancing your own skills and experience.